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Maintoba aims to train physician assistants...

Guest ploughboy

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Guest ploughboy


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I don't know enough to have an informed opinion on this - do any of you have strong feelings one way or another? What is the difference (scope of practice, etc) between a PA and an NP?








Manitoba aims to train physician assistants, ease doctor shortage

Last Updated Tue, 19 Jul 2005 18:34:44 EDT

CBC News


Physician assistants are touted as one solution to chronic doctor shortages, long wait times and rising health-care costs, but a civilian program is needed to train them.


Unlike nurses, physician assistants are allowed to order tests and prescribe drugs under medical supervision.


The United States used the health-care workers to address a shortage of doctors after soldiers with medical experience returned from Vietnam.


"It frees up the surgeons to get some sleep at night," said Chris Rhule, one of 13 civilian PAs in Canada. Rhule works on a cardiovascular ward at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. "I do mostly night shifts and weekend shifts to cover the patients on the ward."


Since Manitoba became the first province to license PAs six years, it has remained the only province that regulates the profession.


Until now, PAs could only get training in the U.S. or through the Canadian military. Now the University of Manitoba is working on a proposal to establish a civilian training program.


The school is uniquely able to educate and employ PAs because of the province's legislation, said Dean Sandham, dean of medicine at U of M.


"It's not a silver bullet," Sandham said, but rather one way to improve access to appropriate health care.


Services such as bone marrow transplants that Winnipeg was at risk of losing because of a lack of staff were able to continue with the help of PAs, noted Dr. Bill Pope.


"There has been, right from the day we started, a very immediate advantage to the people of Manitoba," said Pope, registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba, the licensing and regulatory body for physician assistants.


Pope said there is a tremendous potential for PAs to be used in rural and northern communities that lack doctors.


If the university's proposal is approved soon, the first PA students could start their training in the fall of 2007.





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Source: CBC Website

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Guest westsimba

Being OOP, I'm the first to admit that I don't know much about physicians assistant and their specific role in the system. In the article, there was mention of them being trained in the military. Having been a member of the military myself - I know the extent of the training received by medics. However, they rarely order sophisticated diagnostic tests that PA's seem to be able to do. So basically are PA's sort of like nurse practicioners?

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PAs are in a sense like nurse practioners. We call both NPs and PAs "mid-level practioners" in the US. Many physicians have mixed feelings about them. I've worked with NPs in neurosurgery clinic and PAs in ENT clinic, and it seems to me that they both do similar things--taking a history, doing a physical and reporting the findings back to the MD. In the hospital, especially on surgical services NPs and PAs help out a lot by basically doing resident scut work (writing tylenol orders, doing discharge paper work, etc). I've seen a few PAs be first assists in surgeries as well.


The advantages to being a PA over being an MD is that you don't really have the level of responsibility as an MD. You work fairly good hours, and the education is just 2 years post college, I believe. The disadvantages are that, you aren't your own boss, you're always working for someone else. The pay is not that great (although, I believe some PAs can net around 80-90k/yr, so not too bad). And there really is no opportunity for advancement; it's like you're a resident for the rest of your life.


So do I believe PAs have a role in Canada? Yes, I think they do. But knowing the attitudes of physicians in this country, I highly doubt they will be a fixture in the future.

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Guest marbledust
You work fairly good hours, and the education is just 2 years post college, I believe.


Out of curiousity, I asked my cousin who is a PA in Alaska. According to her, some programs in the US are only two years in length, but *usually* require a bachelor's degree to get in. It is generally two straight years of intense work, with very few breaks. Most also require a prior employment

background in health care. Other programs, like the one my cousin did, are offered at the master's level. In Alaska PAs have been embraced by the medical profession because of a severe lack of physicians and the logistics of providing health care to far flung and isolated communities. She used to work on the west coast of the US where she encountered more resistance from both nurses and doctors.

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